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The Sharon Prize For Colorado is honored to announce the winners of our inaugural grant supporting womxn and non-binary artists throughout Colorado. The jury has awarded $5,000 to Tya Anthony to help fund her new art exhibition, Muscle Memory, and $5,000 to Libby Barbee to help fund her new project, Coalescence.

In his groundbreaking book, Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times, Paul Born describes the four pillars of deep community: sharing our stories, taking the time to enjoy one another, taking care of one another, and working together for a better world. Born says “It’s up to us to create community.” Tya and Libby’s projects beautifully incorporate these pillars throughout their new interactive, art-based experiences.

The Sharon Prize co-founders, Denise Horton and Kathleen Economos, and the Sharon Prize Jury were impressed with Tya and Libbey’s vision, creativity and passion. Their two projects — as well as their talent and artistic gifts — exceeded our expectations on multiple levels.

Tya Anthony

Tya Anthony is an Interdisciplinary Artist, Advocate + Curator, who explores themes of social justice, human rights and identity. She incorporates photography, collage, and sculpture to give a voice to narratives of often marginalized people as well as the social, economic, and natural environments that surround them. She is interested in reimagining histories and in creating autonomous spaces for bodies of color.

As the Founder of Mahogany Vu Contemporary Art, an online thriving gallery for BIPOC, she recently curated a thought provoking and socially responsible, action driven exhibit, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, shown at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMOCA) where eight diverse artists of multiple practices and mediums addressed and explored how we as a society move toward true equity for humanity.

After years of being a photojournalist in Baltimore, Maryland, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, (Summa Cum Laude) and was honored as class Valedictorian from Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design.

Presently, she is a TANK Studios artist, 2018 Redline Residency Artist Alumni and serves on the Advisory Board for Leon Gallery, a non-profit gallery and creative space dedicated to mentoring emerging artists across multiple disciplines. Tya is on the Board of Tilt West, a non-profit dedicated to fostering critical dialog in art and culture in Denver as well as the Colorado Photographic Arts Center advisory board.

She has exhibited in Baltimore and throughout Colorado including a permanent collection commissioned by the Octopus Initiative of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Center for Visual Arts, LEON Gallery, and at RedLine.

Muscle Memory

Muscle Memory is an interactive performance, photographic and sculptural exploration intended to offer communal relief, healing and catharsis in honor of those who have lost their lives due to civil unrest, police violence and those incarcerated in the preschool to prison pipeline. The show will premiere in mid-November at the Leon Gallery in Denver.

While reflecting on Black and African-American experience, healing practices and traditions, hand plastered white flowers and framed white plastered bouquets that look like the plaster is still dripping, float along wall papered walls encasing the space with images of the black body in movement, rest and play.

Muscle Memory is designed to be an ark of togetherness for our community. It will create space for necessary dialogue among the community, a space that states all are welcome through the community local artisan market, celebrates community as a resource for one another emotionally, financially, and visually to inspire connecting to one another. As well as creating a space to process feelings around grief and healing. Muscle Memory will engage the senses and uplift and invigorate the nervous system through essential oils, herbal teas and reading spaces. Essentially Muscle Memory will care for the body and mind, leaving room for acts of random kindness and joy.

Libby Barbee

Libby Barbee grew up on the southeastern plains of Colorado and currently lives in Denver where she straddles multiple roles as an artist, curator, and arts administrator. Libby believes that art has the power to illuminate ideas, to move people to action, and to unite communities.

As an artist, Libby creates work that investigates the sometimes poetic, sometimes startling, but always-complicated relationship between nature and culture. She is interested in the various ways that humans both manipulate and are manipulated by their natural surroundings; and how science, myth, and culture mediate the ways in which we understand ourselves in relationship to the natural world. She creates work that highlights our deep ties to plants, animals, and place; that illuminates human impacts on the environment; and that investigates how cultural ideologies are tied to and expressed through our relationships with the land.

Having grown up on the plains of the American west, she is particularly interested in these themes as they relate to the many communities and cultures of this region. Much of her artwork serves as an examination of the relationship between American identities and the western American landscape. She explores these themes through many forms and media, including digital printmaking, painting, collage, sculpture, interactive installations, and socially engaged practices.

As an arts administrator, Libby’s work has focused primarily on supporting cross-sector work through the arts and socially engaged artists. Previously, Libby has taught art at the university level and overseen community and education programming at an arts non-profit. She currently works at Colorado Creative Industries, where she oversees outreach to rural and underserved communities.

She received her MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland and completed her undergraduate studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where she earned a BFA in Painting, a BFA in Art History, and a BA in French Language.


Coalescence will be an outdoor art installation celebrating Denver’s Westwood neighborhood’s strong food culture, it’s ties to urban agriculture and traditional food production; and will serve a functional purpose of creating protected spaces for people to work and gather. The artwork will be created in collaboration with Re:Vision and Westwood community members, and will integrate images and stories from neighborhood gardeners.

In collaboration with Re:Vision’s program managers, Libby will work with local families to photograph their produce and flower gardens and to record stories about their relationships to and histories with gardening, agriculture, and cooking. Together, they will create patterns from the photographed plants, which will become an image set for the creation of elements that will adorn semi-permanent outdoor structures.

These large outdoor structures will address, in form, a secondary and high priority infrastructural need that has been identified by Re:Vision- areas where people can gather and work, protected from the hot summer sun. The Westwood neighborhood significantly lacks trees and green spaces that cool other urban neighborhoods in Denver.

The Westwood family gardens

Libby will work with a fabricator to construct wood and corrugated metal structures that will create protected spaces along the garden paths on the RISE Westwood urban farm. The patterns created from photographs of residents’ gardens will be used to construct large printed metal panels and fabric sun shades that will be secured to the wooden structures. The audio recordings will be used to create audio elements that can be heard in proximity to the structures. Following the construction of the artwork, the artwork will serve as a natural gathering spot for residents who utilize the RISE Westwood campus.

About The Sharon Prize

The Sharon Prize is an annual grant program established by Denise Horton,CEO and Founder of Towwn, and Kathleen Economos in honor of Denise’s mother and Kathleen’s sister, Sharon Riordan McAvoy, whose love for her community was expressed through her visual art practice and teaching art to children. They hope to encourage emerging and mid-career womxn and non-binary artists, working and residing in Colorado, to explore innovative new expressions about the joy of togetherness and the power of community to move us collectively forward.

Sharon Riordan McAvoy with her children, Denise and Stephan.

Applications were accepted from womxn and non-binary artists including Artists (painters, photographers, sculptors, illustrators, mixed media), Musicians/singers/songwriters, Dancers/choreographers, Writers/Poets, Playwrights/Directors and Filmmakers/Screenwriters.

In our inaugural year, we received 25 diverse project proposals from across Colorado (Telluride, Palisade, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder and more). Visual artists, authors and poets, dancers and filmmakers submitted project proposals in 2021. Thank you to everyone who submitted your ideas. We were deeply honored to learn about your talent and ideas. We’re committed to funding the Sharon Prize in 2022 so please follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop on 2022 dates and other information.

The Sharon Prize For Colorado Jury

Denise Horton, Founder & CEO, Towwn

Kathleen Economos, Co-Founder, Cherry Creek Theater

Jess Preble, Director of Curation, Cottonwood Center For the Arts

Megan Adams, Graduate Student, Art History and Museum Studies, University of Denver

Susie Snodgrass, Artistic Director, Cherry Creek Theater




Towwn is the only digital platform (website & mobile app) for people who crave culture. We offer a range of Art & Culture events–from marquee to underground–including live streams, virtual experiences, podcasts, classes and films.

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